Michael Kopech

Position: RHSP
Level: High A
Affiliate: Salem Red Sox
League: International League
Age: 19
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 205
B/T: Right / Right
Acquired: 1st Rd. (#33 overall), 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft (BOS); Traded to CWS 12/6/2016

Prospect Spotlight

The Potential Tools: 70 FB, 60 SL, 50 CH

Strengths: Plus athleticism; fast arm speed; consistent ¾ arm slot; fastball is explosive; downhill with armside run; works 94-to-97 mph, can touch higher when needed; a bat-missing pitch; slider is unique; big depth with tight spin and tilt; low-to-middle 80s; major league out pitch; go-to secondary; changeup flashes average; works well off fastball; power sink with some vertical movement; control around strike zone; bat-missing arsenal; has athleticism to overcome noted delivery issues.
Weaknesses: Delivery has multiple moving parts; timing is inconsistent; present command is well below average; changeup can become flat and firm and lose effectiveness; needs a large developmental step forward; slider can blend with curveball and become slurvy; fastball command is loose within zone; fastball up in the zone can get flat and squared; present command, delivery and arsenal far away from SP projection; injury history on resume; short pro resume.

Role Ceiling: 50; #4 SP/closer.

Risk: High; long developmental path; limited pro experience.

Summary: Kopech may possess one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues right now. It’s mid-to-upper 90s with explosive life, and there is some deception in the delivery. His slider is one of the more unique breaking pitches because it combines slider velocity and tilt with curveball depth and bite. It’s a bat-missing pitch at the highest level. While suspended, Kopech got to work on his changeup, which projects to be potentially average.

The arsenal and pitchability are not the issues with Kopech, though – it’s his makeup. He was suspended for 50 games for an illegal substance in 2015, and then begain his 2016 campaign by braking his hand punching a teammate in spring training. There are some issues that need to be worked out on the mental side for Kopech. If he gets better situated, he has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter.